What’s the best way to teach children a second language? New research produces surprising results.

Different to what people might expect, children’s language-analytic ability is most important, followed by phonological awareness.

In a new study, the results showed that conscious effort & learning makes the best use of limited time spent on foreign language learning.

In other words, subconscious language learning requires much longer hours of learning over a longer period of time.

This means that even if you don’t live in the country where the desired language is spoken, you can learn effectively through lessons, including via NaTakallam conversation sessions and Integrated Curriculum!

P.S. Did you know NaTakallam offers four languages, easily accessible to you online via Skype? Find out more here.

Source and image: link.

Summer drink series: Seville orange syrup (sharab al-busfeyr)

Photo credit: Carls Bad Craving

Made with the juice of Seville oranges, Sharab al-Busfeyr (literally meaning ‘the drink of Seville oranges’ in Arabic) is just another way to cool off to a sweet syrup as we bid the summer season farewell.

With only two ingredients, this easy recipe deserves a try!


  • 2 pounds of Seville (or any other) oranges
  • Sugar (equal weight as the juice)

Firstly, juice the oranges and then in the same amount in weight, add sugar to the juice. Stir the sugar frequently during the day until fully dissolved (some patience may be required, it can take days!), and do not add any water to the mixture. Once the sugar is dissolved, transfer the syrup into a clean bottle. It is best kept in the fridge to increase its shelf-life to one year.

To drink, mix 1/4 part syrup to 3/4 parts water — serve with crushed ice if desired!

Recipe: http://www.tasteofbeirut.com/seville-orange-syrup-sharab-al-busfeyr/

Image: https://carlsbadcravings.com/easy-orange-syrup/

The world is a poorer place when monolingualism prevails

Ludovic Marin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via NYTimes

In how many ways can you express your feelings? How many different words do you have for snow, dates (the fruit), the range of shades for the color purple? We believe that the more languages you know, the richer your linguistic repertoire, and ultimately, the richer your experience of life.

“Bilingualism improves memory, attention and mental dexterity… when young people learn that there is more than one word for a color, feeling or thing, they are hard-wired to know that multiple perspectives coexist.”

Whether you’re starting a new language or polishing up your Arabic, Persian, French or Spanish, NaTakallam’s got you covered 😉

Learn a language, widen your vocabulary, broaden your perspective.

Source and image: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/25/opinion/letters/english-language-europe.html

Travel Tuesday: Salalah, Oman

Photo credit: Condé Nast Traveller Middle East

An oasis in the Middle East, Salalah is the second largest city of #Oman and go-to summer escape, or during the ‘khareef’ (خَرِيْف‎) or monsoon season as the locals would say. The word khareef literally means ‘autumn’ in Arabic, but in Southern Oman, autumn seems to begin as early as July with stunning shades of greenery!

Salalah’s many breathtaking waterfalls, such as ‘Ayn koor’ (عين كور), or the ‘Water Spring of Koor’, are accessible from July–September and are not to be missed! Catch it before it’s too late 😉

#TravelTuesday #NaTakallam #Arabic #Oman #Salalah

Source and image: https://www.omanobserver.om/salalah-all-set-for-khareef-season/

Summer drink series: Papelón con Limón

This week’s summer drink is one of the oldest and most popular beverages in Venezuela! Simply made with an unrefined sugar cane (or piloncillo in Spanish), lime juice and water, ‘Papelón con Limón‘ is an effortless yet tasty way to freshen up during these last days of the summer.

Dating back to the 18th century, Papelón con Limón was especially popular among those who worked in the fields for its high nutritional value.

Want to give it a try? You can find the recipe below.


  • 1 8 ounce piloncillo cone
  • 4 cups very hot water
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Ice cubes for serving

Pour hot water over the piloncillo cone. After it has dissolved & cooled off, add the lime juice & cold water. Serve with ice cubes. ¡Salud!

Image & source: https://thymeandlove.com/papelon-con-limon-piloncillo-and-lime-drink/

Summer Drink Series: Jallab

Summer’s almost over, but it’s never too late to cool off with this popular drink from the Levant: ‘Jallab‘ or ‘جلاب‘ in Arabic!

With its distinct floral aroma, this drink consists of date & grape molasses, rose water, crushed ice & pine nuts. It is also used to add flavor to ice-cream & yogurt. Try the recipe below!


  • 1 1/2 tablespoon grape syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon date syrup
  • 1-2 teaspoons rose water
  • Pine nuts
  • Golden raisins
  • Crushed ice
  • Water

Pour the syrup & rose water into a tall glass along with crushed ice. Add water & stir well. Lastly, sprinkle a desired amount of pine nuts & raisins. Sahtein!

Source: https://www.tastemade.com/shows/thirsty-for/jallab

Image: http://food-heritage.org/refreshing-ramadan-drinks/

Llivia: The Spanish Town in France

Looking to practice Spanish from French territories? Llivia, a small landlocked town of 1500 inhabitants, in France is actually Spanish. It got stuck in France due to a historical misunderstanding!

In addition to the beautiful stone buildings and the unique history of this town, Llivia is also the hometown of Europe’s oldest pharmacy. You can visit the Pharmacy Museum and see artifacts dating back to the 15th century, or plan a retreat in the medieval town!

Before you visit this charming town, don’t forget to polish up your French AND Spanish knowledge via Skype with our quality, native conversation partners! Sign up here!

Images & source: https://vagrantsoftheworld.com/llivia-spain/

Idioms Lost in Translation

Translation is an art, but sometimes meanings get lost in #translation.

For instance, what does the idiom “to have tomatoes on your eyes” mean in German or “the carrots are cooked!” in French? Read on to find out, plus find some idioms below from Portugal and Japan 😉


The idiom: Avaler des couleuvres.
Literal translation: “To swallow grass snakes.”
What it means: “It means being so insulted that you’re not able to reply.” 

The idiom: Sauter du coq à l’âne.
Literal translation: “To jump from the cock to the donkey.”
What it means: “It means to keep changing topics without logic in a conversation.” 

The idiom: Se regarder en chiens de faïence.
Literal translation: “To look at each other like earthenware dogs.”
What it means: “Basically, to look at each other coldly, with distrust.” 

The idiom: Les carottes sont cuites!
Literal translation
: “The carrots are cooked!”
What it means: “The situation can’t be changed.”
Other language connections: It’s bit like the phrase, “It’s no use crying over spilt milk,” in English.


The idiom: Tomaten auf den Augen haben.
Literal translation: “You have tomatoes on your eyes.”
What it means: “You are not seeing what everyone else can see. It refers to real objects, though — not abstract meanings.”

The idiom: Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.
Literal translation: “I only understand the train station.”
What it means: “I don’t understand a thing about what that person is saying.’”

The idiom: Die Katze im Sack kaufen.
Literal translation
: “To buy a cat in a sack.”
What it means: That a buyer purchased something without inspecting it first.
Other languages this idiom exists in: We hear from translators that this is an idiom in Swedish, Polish, Latvian and Norwegian. In English, the phrase is “buying a pig in poke,” but English speakers do also  “let the cat out of the bag,” which means to reveal something that’s supposed to be secret.


The idiom: Quem não se comunica se trumbica
Literal translation: “He who doesn’t communicate, gets his fingers burnt.”
What it means: “He who doesn’t communicate gets into trouble.”’

The idiom: Quem não tem cão caça com gato
Literal translation: “He who doesn’t have a dog hunts with a cat.”
What it means: “You make the most of what you’ve got.” Basically, you do what you need to do, with what the resources you have. 

The idiom: Empurrar com a barriga
Literal translation: “To push something with your belly.”
What it means: “To keep postponing an important chore.”

The idiom: Pagar o pato
Literal translation: 
“Pay the duck.”
What it means: “To take the blame for something you did not do.”


The idiom: 猫をかぶる
Literal translation: “To wear a cat on one’s head.”
What it means: “You’re hiding your claws and pretending to be a nice, harmless person.”

The idiom: 猫の手も借りたい
Literal translation: “Willing to borrow a cat’s paws.”*
What it means: “You’re so busy that you’re willing to take help from anyone.” 

The idiom: 猫の額
Literal translation: “Cat’s forehead.”
What it means: “A tiny space. Often, you use it when you’re speaking humbly about land that you own.”

The idiom: 猫舌
Literal translation: “Cat tongue.”
What it means: “Needing to wait until hot food cools to eat it.”

*Yes, Japanese has quite a few cat idioms.

Hope you enjoyed reading the translations! #Languages #NaTakallam

Source, Translations & Image: https://blog.ted.com/40-idioms-that-cant-be-translated-literally/